Summer Smoothie Recipe: Otai Smoothie

'Otai Smoothie RecipeSummer Smoothie Recipe: ‘Otai Smoothie

‘Otai is a refreshing drink that is a blend of watermelon, coconut, and pineapple, which originated in western Polynesia. We call this frozen version our Watermelon Pineapple Coconut Cooler. This ‘otai inspired recipe captures all the flavors of the traditional drink, but is smooth enough to enjoy with a straw on a warm summer evening.

Ingredients

2 cups seedless watermelon (with juice)
1 cup crushed pineapple (with juice)
1/2 cup coconut milk
Sweetener (stevia or agave, or sugar)

Preparation

Combine all ingredients except for sweetener in a blender and mix at the lowest speed. Continue slowly mixing until the ingredients are smooth, but not entirely liquified.

Add sweetener to taste.

Serve over ice.

Best BBQ Recipes for the 4th of July

Your 4th of July BBQ Will Rock Harder Than Lee Greewood Backed Up by Van Halen with These Barbecue Recipes

Fireworks, parades, fiery BBQ grills. It’s what Independence Day is all about.

eagle with flagI’m not sure that the signers of the Declaration of Independence had this in mind, but the coming of another 4th of July always brings up a few poignant associations and memories that have accumulated over the years in my brain:

  1. Fireworks at my sister’s annual event, Cul du Sac of Fire, and this line from Apu on The Simpsons, “Celebrate the birth of your country by blowing up a small part of it.” (Say it out loud in an Indian accent for full effect.)
  2. Parades complete with falling-apart floats, super duper exuberant marching bands, and unattractively sweaty small town beauty queens with toothy grimaces perpetuating their inconceivably euphoric slow waves (nobody should have to wear those dresses for hours in 100 degree heat). Inevitably there is also an all-star baseball team with some wild-eyed star pitcher slinging salt-water taffy in my direction. It stings a little, may even cause a welt, but it tastes oh so delicious.
  3. BBQs in the backyard with an assemblage of jovial semi-related folk and a pile of delightfully tasty meats and other drippy delightful outdoor foods.

So, hopefully you get a chance to blow stuff up and attend that small town parade. And most of all, hopefully you have some great BBQ recipes for the 4th of July. Here are a few of my favorites.

Dr. Pepper Chicken on the Grill

Dr. Pepper Chicken recipeI like Dr. Pepper’s 29 flavors. I like chicken. Enough said. This one is delightful, a tad bit spicy and super rich in flavor.

Enjoy it as a staple of your Fourth of July BBQ or make it to compliment your incredible array of tasty meat treats.

Ingredients

  • Whole Chicken with Skin on
  • Texas BBQ Rub
  • Roasting Post
  • Can of Dr Pepper

Instructions

  1. Rinse chicken in cold water and dry with a paper towel.
  2. Coat the outside of the chicken with Texas BBQ Rub by gently rubbing it in to the meat.
  3. Refrigerate for 12/24 hours in a sealed Zip-lock bag.
  4. Preheat pellet grill for 30 minutes or gas grill for 15 minutes.
  5. Pour about half of the Dr. Pepper into a cup. You can drink the rest and enjoy.
  6. Add about a teaspoon of your BBQ seasoning into the Dr Pepper and pour the mix into the opening on the top of your roasting post and place your whole chicken on the roasting post in the middle of the grill.
  7. Close the lid and roast the chicken at a medium heat until the skin is golden with brown-black edges.

The internal temperature should reach about 170 F, usually 1 hour to 1 ½ hour depending on the type and heat of the grill.

Now savor the flavor.

Slow-Going Baby Back Ribs on the BBQ

Slow Going Baby Back RibsNo real 4th of July Barbeque is complete without a delicious rib recipe. You can’t beat the fall-off-the-bone goodness of some baby back ribs on the BBQ.

I would like to thank Bullfrog Spas customer Rebecca Christensen for sharing this great rib recipe with us a while back.

This tasty recipe takes a little longer to prepare but it is worth every mouth-watering second.

Ingredients

  • 3 racks of baby back ribs (double for more)
  • 2 Tablespoons Black Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Onion Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons of your favorite Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry rub ingredients together and gently rub into ribs. Be sure to coat the ribs as evenly as possible. Place seasoned ribs in refrigerator overnight to allow for the flavors to penetrate the meat.
  2. Preheat a Traeger or other pellet grill on smoke setting to approximately 225 degrees.
  3. Place ribs on the grill for approximately 2 hours.
  4. Wrap ribs in tinfoil and continue to cook for approximately 4 more hours.
  5. Unwrap and baste with Famous Dave’s “Rich and Sassy” BBQ Sauce and cook for 10-15 more minutes.

Now enjoy the mouth-watering reward for your patience and hard work.

Grilled Zucchini and Summer Squash with Yogurt Sauce

(source: http://gourmandeinthekitchen.com/2012/grilled-vegetables-with-yogurt-sauce-recipe/)
Zucchini w yogurt sauce

img source: http://gourmandeinthekitchen.com/2012/grilled-vegetables-with-yogurt-sauce-recipe/

This delightful recipe is hearty and flavorful while being healthy at the same time.

Enjoy it as a main dish for those who don’t do meat for your summer bbq. Or, of course, it makes the perfect compliment to any of the delicious proteins above.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup/ 227g plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon/ 15 ml tahini
  • 2 tablespoon / 30 ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove finely minced
  • About 6 (each) zucchini and summer squash, sliced lengthwise
  • 4 tablespoons/ 60 ml olive oil (divided)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley

Instructions

  1. Mix together the first 5 ingredients along with a pinch of salt and 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. Set aside while making the vegetables.
  2. Arrange coated vegetables on grill rack (over medium-high heat); grill vegetables 8 minutes or until just tender, turning once. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  3. Place vegetables on a platter. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve with sauce.

Your whole party will love this one.

More Great Recipes for the 4th of July on Pinterest

These are obviously a few of my favorite barbecue recipes for the 4th of July and other summer parties but this only scratches the surface. Be sure to check out our Pinterest board Recipes for Outdoor Dining for more great ideas on foods for the 4th.

The Best Times to Soak in Your Hot Tub

6 Times in Your Life When a Soak in a Hot Tub is Just the Best

Know When to Use Your Hot TubWhether you have owned a hot tub for years or only recently purchased one, knowing the best times to soak in your hot tub ensures that you are getting the most out of your spa. Regardless of the time of year, season, or time of day, taking a dip in your hot tub at the right time in your life can help you to be your very best.

Soak in the Hot Tub When You’re Feeling Stressed

Relieve Stress with a Soak in the Hot TubAny time you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed with everyday life, soaking in your hot tub can help you to relax. Adding aromatherapy candles, incense and even calming music to your hot tub soak is one of the quickest ways to create a soothing atmosphere. Getting the downtime you need is essential to ensure that you do not overwork yourself or become burnt out. A hot tub is the ideal place to recover, unwind, and recharge your positive energy any time you are battling a stressful situation.

In addition to the calming swirling waters, creating a relaxing, inviting atmosphere around your hot tub is very helpful to get the most out of your de-stressing experience. Be sure to clear away any clutter surrounding your hot tub and add soothing lighting, such as outdoor lamps, tiki torches, and even candles to create a stress-free nighttime ambiance.

Soak in the Hot Tub When You’re in Pain

back-and-neck-painSoaking in a hot tub is a great way to relax and soothe sore muscles. However, if you have a history of serious medical illness or conditions, consult with your doctor or medical provider before using a hot tub as a healing aid. Heat therapy in a hot tub can be especially helpful for minor muscle aches and tension.

Whether you are struggling with shoulder and neck pain, backaches, or even pain throughout your legs and feet, sitting and soaking in your hot tub for 20 – 30 minutes is a great way to relieve pain without using medications or painkillers.

Soak in the Hot Tub in the Winter

Hot Tubbing in the WinterIf you live in an area that experiences snowy winters, you know how long and cold they can be. However, do not allow the cold weather to deter you from a wonderfully warm and relaxing experience in your own backyard.

One of the very best times to take a soak in your hot tub is during the winter. It can be especially magical during a fresh a snowfall. The gently falling snow melting just at the water’s surface will remind you of your cares melting away. Just sit back and relax in your warm inviting hot tub and enjoy hot chocolate, tea, or even your morning coffee. You won’t even feel the cold.

Soak in the Hot Tub with Family and Friends

Family Time in the Hot TubHolidays, celebrating a marriage in the family, or even an upcoming sporting event, these are all ideal reasons to host a hot tub party. Invite your friends or just enjoy with those you love most. It’s sure to be a great time.

Spending time with family and friends in the hot tub might not be the most relaxing way to use your hot tub, but it is a fun and enjoyable way to bond with your loved ones. Serve food, drinks, and provide plenty of fresh towels for a fun and successful hot tub party.

Soak in the Hot Tub After a Long Time on Your Feet

Using a Hot Tub After a WorkoutAfter spending a long day working on your feet, walking around, or even hiking or running, spending time in the hot tub is a quick way to decompress and relieve aches and pains. When you’ve spent a long day out, taking time to soak in your jetted hot tub will bring instant relief.

To maximize both the fun and health benefits of your hot tub, know when the best times are to take a soak in your hot tub.  Whatever the time, temperature, or occasion, it’s always a good time to put your hot tub to good use. You will love it.

The Secret to Improve Your Golf Game, and You’ll Enjoy It

Improve Your Golf Swing and Gain an Advantage on the Course

lining up a golf shotGolf Digest fitness advisor, Randy Myers insists there is one thing golfers must do before they play – “You need moist heat.”

So is hot water (not the kind of hot water Phil Mickelson or Tiger Woods have been in recently) the secret to improving your golf game?

According to experts, it may be. Top golf and fitness experts are increasingly pointing to heat therapy as one of the best treatments for a variety of game related injuries and one of the best ways to keep yourself loose – resulting in better play. So amateur weekend player, 19th hole networker, or golf pro; hot water could not only be the ticket to bouncing back from the pain, but actually improving your game too. So, what are the best practices for applying heat therapy?

Improve Your Golf Game, Reduce Injury, and Recover with Moist Heat

The Fitness Editor of Golf Digest says “Warming up the muscles needed to play will help reduce the chance of injuries and also help you swing better.” Moist heat is the fastest way to warm muscles, and can be easier and more enjoyable than warming up with a hard work out before hitting the fairways.

improve your golf swing with a hot tub

For many golfers, the damage to their bodies is already done. Many amateurs and veteran pros alike are already feeling the wear and tear of years of swinging away.

Physical therapist, fitness trainer for the PGA Tour, and professional advisor, Ralph Simpson is another big fan of heat for golfers. Simpson’s heat treatments are applied for “that nagging lower-back pain many golfers deal with”, and in the “later stages of rehab.” This helps golfers to treat day to day stiffness and to recover from more serious long-term injuries.

Without preventative measures and timely treatment, even the casual golfer may be doing serious damage without even recognizing it. Elbow tendonitis, medical epicondylitis, tennis elbow, rotator cuff disorders, and repetitive strain injury are all terms professionals use to refer to what golfers know as the notorious Golf Elbow. Golfer’s Elbow occurs simply from the strain of repetitive play. Eventually overuse creates small tendon and muscle tears. The resulting inflammation, buildup of calcium deposits, and scar tissue can cause restricted movement, stiffness, ongoing pain, numbness, and even weakness.

Similar injuries and damage can be suffered in a golfer’s knees and lower back. Athletic Edge warns that left unchecked and untreated recovery can extend to 6 months. This compares to just a few weeks for those applying appropriate management techniques.

In a recent blog extensive medical statistics and scientific testing proved the benefits of Using Heat Therapy to Reach Your Fitness Goals and enhancing performance.

Heat therapy increases blood flow to injured joints, alleviates pain, and actually promotes healing. This can improve a golfer’s game through increased range of motion, more strength, and suffering less down time.

4 Best Practices for Using Heat Therapy to Help Golfers

Medical and athletic professionals agree on several best practices for applying heat therapy:

  1. Using moist heat is effective due to water’s conductive capabilities so apply directly to muscle groups with a bath, hot tub, or at least a moistened towel.
  2. Hot water is as important before exercise to prevent injury as after to recover
  3. Applications of moist heat should be in 15 to 20 minute increments, as needed
  4. Heat should not be directly applied to fresh injuries or open wounds to prevent swelling or increased bleeding

Types of Heat Therapy

using hot tubs to help your golf gameThere is more than one way to apply heat.

According to The Merck Manuals, options include “using a heat pack; soaking your elbow in warm, moving water, such as in a hot tub; using infrared heat or heated wax; or applying a medicated heat rub.” However, Ralph Simpson warns that creams like Bengay are generally not enough.

Golf Digest advisor Randy Myers is adamant that moist heat is critical and also lists “shower, steam room, whirlpool” as choices. He also comments that “several Championship Tour players have added a stretching program”, while in hot water, providing yoga like benefits.

WebMD is also a supporter of moist heat, and exercise under warm water, and recommends repeating “2 or 3 times a day to reduce the risk of permanent stiffness in the joint.”

Alternative & Complimentary Therapies

Heat is not the only option for treating golf injuries, specifically Golfer’s Elbow. However, many of the alternatives suggested by industry professionals and medical practitioners may be unattractive. Others could potentially be combined with heat therapy to deliver superior results in less time.

13 alternative therapies and treatments:

  1. Steroid injections
  2. Surgical intervention
  3. Anti-inflammatory medications
  4. Technique correction
  5. Elbow braces
  6. Electrotherapy; laser treatment, ultrasound
  7. Rehabilitation and physical therapy
  8. Sports massage
  9. Soft tissue massage
  10. Isometric exercise and Active Release Treatment (Dr. Ben Kim)
  11. Deep massage and heat therapy (Ben E. Benjamin PhD)
  12. Rest
  13. Hydrotherapy

There are many possible combinations of the above therapies, treatments and performance enhancing practice for Golfers. The most recommended consistently appears to be massage and moist heat. These both combine in a hot tub or spa.

Optimal Heat & Massage Therapy for Golfers

A hot tub or spa is the best therapeutic solution for golf related conditions, and can enhance performance, but what is the optimal solution for putting it into practice?

Fortunately, for pro golfers on tour, it is highly unlikely any hotel or resort listed in Golf Digest or among Conde Naste’s Top 25 places to stay would come without a full spa or at least a hot tub.

Similarly, avid golfers looking for a new golf community ought to find most are blessed with at least one clubhouse hot tub. These include Wisconsin Dells 27 hole Championship golf and ski resort, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, PA, and the Trump National Doral and infamous Blue Monster course.

Still, there are a number of reasons having a hot tub at home is a smarter choice:

  • Running to the community clubhouse 2 to 3 times a day isn’t for everyone
  • Finding room to exercise and stretch in a communal spa can be awkward
  • You won’t be a celebrity golf target with paparazzi wanting to get you in trouble
  • Tiger Woods’ new home of course has a hot tub
  • It sure beats the cost of heading off to the natural hot springs for hot water therapy
  • Ability to fully personalize your hot tub and massaging spa jet configuration

A Hot Tub at Home – A Hole in One for Serious Golfers

Golf and fitness pros are adamant about the necessity, and advantages of hot water therapy for recovery, injury prevention, and maximizing performance on the greens.

Pro Golfers, along with their families, wives and friends all love hot tubs:

  • Paulina Gretzky, who graced the cover of Golf Digest’s May 2014 issue, has posted pictures in a hot tub
  • Tom Gillis and Kyle Dobbs are both advocates of  using hot tubs before play
  • Pro Golfer, Val Skinner has been featured by the Golf Channel on the benefits of hydro-massage and hot tubs
  • Tiger Woods’ new home sports a very impressive hot tub spa, which is presumably helping as Tiger recovers from injury
  • LPGA pro golfer Brittany Lincicome touts the benefits of hydrotherapy both at home and on the road

Tiger Woods Recovering from Injury

image source: golfdigest.com/blogs/the-loop/2014/06/woods-first-round-back-takes-7.html

Besides, the added benefits of stress relief and improved mental focus, having a hot tub at home is clearly one of the best ways to apply heat therapy and gain an edge on your golf buddies.

So if you’re into golf in a big way or even just as a hobby you can preserve your clubs by reducing golf rage, keep the paparazzi at bay, and up your game with a highly customized hot tub at home.

Build a Life…

Quote

Bullfrog Spas hot tub overlooking the sea.

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from. – Seth Godin

I love this quote almost as much as the wisdom of the quoter. This speaks to the wisdom in living a deliberate life (phrasing borrowed from another sage).

Of course building your life so you don’t need vacations could mean a variety of things to different people. One way to accomplish this though is certainly making your home a sanctuary, an escape from the world, and a place you truly love.

Start with making your backyard into that special place where you can get away for a few minutes everyday. A morning coffee, an afternoon breather, or an evening in your warm hot tub. A few minutes out in the fresh air is really all you need. Breathe in and just be away. You’ll be surprised how much clarity and energy this will provide. You’ll be on your way to your goal of a deliberately happy life.

These Superfoods are Completely Destroying You… Maybe

Some Superfoods May Not Be So ‘Super’

Superfood SaladThere is so much buzz in the air about how to get healthy. Most of this is great, and important to do for our health. But, we have probably all succumbed to a few fads, diets, and questionable theories as well. The truth is that despite all our efforts, as a whole, we are still headed to a direction of bad health. This has given us shorter lifespan statistics for the first time in decades. The standard American diet, full of too much fatty meat, refined foods, and sugars, simply does not give the average person glowing health reviews.

Even this statement on the state of American health is beginning to feel a little like a cliché. You might even be rolling your eyes, and thinking at this point that of course you know that you need to eat better. So, why read on? Well, you have great healthy intentions, but you may have been led astray.

Is it a Bird, is it a Plane? Nope, It’s a Super Food

Because even those not particularly concerned with eating healthy are learning about new kinds of foods that practically wear capes. They’re called super foods. If you didn’t know, these are foods that are so packed with nutrients they practically fly. Not to mention the health benefits that can range from improving your chance of fighting off cancer to warding off depression.

Don’t tell me you wouldn’t like to get rid of the blues if they come around.

Yes, super foods are great. But, like anything that gets loved, too much of a good thing can be bad. Running with ‘the idea of super foods’ people have started buying up anything and everything with certain names mentioned everywhere from health food sites to blogs to the Today Show.

This is good right?

Well, some of these ‘healthy’ super foods, which seem to be snatched up and used without a thought, aren’t getting the second glance and the careful consideration they need.

Take a Closer Look at Your Superfood Friends

By knowing the benefits of super foods, and their limitations, everyone can lead a happier life away and gain a better understanding of nutrition along the way.Trying to dispel myths, we’ve taken a look at three of the worst offenders that seem to be consumed without thought and without enough thorough inspection.

Forgetting the obvious dangers of fried chicken and grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we will take a peek at three darlings of the super food stage: kale, olive oil, and dark chocolate. It might surprise you to learn these are not the straight forward super food super heroes you might have thought they were.

1. Kale – The Not So Simple Green

Kale, Superfood?

The new favorite kid in the veggie class, kale is cropping up everywhere: at your gym in workout smoothies, the fancy restaurant salad, and maybe even in your moms next stir-fry at dinner. On the ratings chart for health benefit, it tops out: high in fiber, iron, calcium, antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, low fat, low calorie, and has vitamin K, A, and C.

So what isn’t to love about all that?

Well, all that is good stuff. But, before you start gnawing on kale all day long, there are things to consider about this golden vegetable that can show too much of a good thing applies to everything we put in our bodies.

What’s the problem with Kale?

Some evidence shows that an overabundance of kale in the diet actually could promote blood clotting – not a good thing. People prone to clotting, blood disorders, or on blood thinning medication definitely need to watch their Kale intake. It isn’t that eating a lot of kale will cause problems, but too much could and has for some people. Also, I hate to say that lots of kale can do more than this.

Not just trying to scare you, but this could be important. Sorry to burst your kale bubble.

Hyperthyroidism. Sad but true, kale in abundant amounts could cause the thyroid to kick into overdrive leading to all sorts of nasty things from a lack of libido and depression to constipation and balding. Healthy trend followers, when pairing kale with a lot of other cruciferous vegetables, this is where these things could really get you into trouble. And often, the one who adores the kale will also be dabbling in its other super food friends.

But wait, there is more!

Eating large amounts of kale can also cause gas, bloating, and other less than savory things that may require a bathroom. Life is often not easy with too much kale. Simply consider how hard it can be to chew, ok, you get the picture. Of course this isn’t exactly a reason to run off to the doctor, but walking around feeling like an overstuffed turkey isn’t really a pleasant sensation.

So unless being a clotted, depressed bloating person who is “healthy” is your goal, here are a few fixes and healthy ways to include kale in your life.

How do I do kale the right way?

Moderation is key with kale and with all its benefits, it would be a waste to just toss it out of your diet and life. People eating this stuff daily in every juice, salad, and side are not going to keep up the great feelings for long. Take it slow and pay attention to the following tips and kale will treat you right.

  1. One way to help kale be more easily digestible is removing the tough stems. Slice kale down the center, keep the sides of the leaf, and your done – very simple fix to avoid bloating and a sore jaw.
  2. Get your fingers ready. When making kale in one of those super salads, massage it. This will break down tough fibers, and give you an easier fix to any tough parts and make for a tender leaf. It isn’t weird or elitist, what it does is let your dressing soak into the leaves and not leave a puddle at the bottom of your bowl. I’d also try this if you are tossing kale into the saute pan to soak up any spices or sauces it gets tossed around with.
  3. And don’t you want that kale to get extra tender yummy? Well, to cook, or not to cook that is the question of many a health enthusiast. The answer is yes and no, hence the confusion. Cooking kale is said to lessen the benefits it has fighting cancer, but aids better in lowering cholesterol levels. The flip side is true of raw, as it fights cancer better but not so much with cholesterol. The answer is simple. Do both. Eat it sauteed or raw, after that tender massage of course. What not to do is boil and steam it into a sad, dull puddle of flat green muck. The way to go is that it can be tender, but still should have a curl to it when lightly cooked. And when raw, all there is to do is make sure you are ready for some thorough chewing. Overcooking will make it lose those great nutrients that are inside the kale. And that would be a shame.

2. Olive Oil – The Ancient Oil

Olive Oil, Superfood?

Dabbed onto your whole wheat bread, mixed into your quinoa, and sauteing your veggies is the staple in the healthy kitchen: olive oil. If you haven’t seen how popular olive oil has become, than you might not have stepped outside recently.

But you hopefully have, unless your in a bunker growing kale. If you haven’t, here is what is going on.

There are entire stores, oil bars, dedicated to the delicatessen art of what to do with olive oil. With its subtle flavors, numerous studies, and health benefits of omego-3 fatty acids and vitamin E, it isn’t shocking that the world is lapping it up. Before you keep more stocked in the kitchen, or think of frying up your salmon, consider that olive oil might not be such a good companion at all.

What’s the problem?

Olive oil first came to popularity after the famed Mediterranean Diet study. After finding out about the statistics from this, olive oil started becoming a common staple in homes during the 1990′s. As one of the most popular aspects of of the diet, olive oil shouldn’t seem like a problem. But if we take a closer look at this tasty oil, things start to get slippery.

Did you catch that pun?

First, the Mediterranean Diet came out in the 1940′s, and later gained popularity. That isn’t a bad thing, except maybe the distance forgot to show what the diet has been compared against more recently, which is the standard American diet. For anyone not familiar with our vegetable deprived, high fat, sugar laden American diet be warned that it is not a difficult thing to try and outdo.

You want to try right?

It isn’t hard, but there are catches. Not knowing this, many people attribute olive oil as a key that doesn’t take in the overall better health of the people studied on Crete who also consume more grains, fruits, vegetables, but are a much more active culture.

When looked at during studies that involve olive oil on its own, its impact on the body isn’t ideal. As a fat, those thinking the consumption of oil is a good thing when trying to lose weight will not see great results. It is, even if it has a few positives, a fat after all.

You probably don’t want more of it on you, I’m guessing.

Once consumed, the restriction of the blood vessels after a meal is also bad news for those working on circulation or heart strength. That doesn’t seem apparent at first considering the studies, until you see what the studies are comparing it to.

The other way olive oil causes havoc to the body is by having it used in all the wrong ways. The worst way is heating up olive oil. As an oil with a low heating temperature, it becomes unstable when heated up. Even though it is used often in this way, from crisping salmon to making hash browns, free radicals are release. These not only cause aging, but promotes the growth of cancer by releasing the unhealthy oil into the bloodstream. That is why knowing how to work with olive oil in a safe way matters most.

How do I do olive oil the right way?

  1. First off, do not heat it up! If you are going to be coating something, opt for an oil that has a high heating temperature. Oils like canola oil and coconut oil are popular due to their subtle flavors. Should you adore the taste of olive oil, just heat it over a longer period of time in the oven on a lower temperature. That means no smoke. Never, for the sake of your health, use it to flash cook anything that ends up crispy. It might taste yummy, but oh the damage it can ensure.
  2. One way to avoid those negative points of heating olive oil is by simply using it in things that are cold. Using it on bread or in cold salads can be ok. Remember though, even if used correctly, there is the point of how much exactly you are using. Olive oil is still a fat, even if it is a more healthy one. Dumping a lot on your salad pretty much ruined any benefits you gained from those low calorie, nutrient packed veggies.
  3. Don’t depend on olive oil as a dressing, try out other options and limit the amount you use. If you research ‘oil free dressings’, you will come up with a list that is extensive in low to no oils in them. You might end up stocking things like tahini, apple cider vinegar, and fresh herbs to balance out the flavors you had from your old dressings.
  4. Consider a few nutritional olive oil alternatives. Those seeking out those great benefits like omego-3′s aren’t at a loss. Flax seed is packed with omego-3 fatty acids, but gives other benefits like fiber and heart health that olive oil can’t claim. You might even check into using flax seed oil itself instead of olive oil should you want to keep your fat intake down.

And you want to do that right?

Of course, lessening your olive oil intake doesn’t mean ditching it. That same mindfulness people talk about with butter can be applied. Yes, you can still dip your bread in it, roast your vegetables, and even eat it in your salad dressing. Just try for once a week instead of every day, and you don’t have to worry again about the woes of olive oil.

3. Dark Chocolate – A Sweet Treat

Dark Chocolate, Superfood?

When first opting for a healthier eating lifestyle, the idea of giving up those naughty sweets can wilt the heart a bit. That is, until, you learn about dark chocolate. Whether drizzled onto your fruit or eaten straight off the bar, dark chocolate has become one of the sweet treats that is allowed into the healthy person’s diet, even encouraged.

Did you think you would have to go without the taste of sweet sweet chocolate forever?

Well, dark chocolate is your loophole, sort of. There are several beneficial antioxidants in dark chocolate, sometimes more than those pricey pints of blueberries at the store. Endless in variety, from the sea salt sprinkled to those fused with raspberries, how you eat dark chocolate has a limitless imagination. However, all those endless choices, are why things aren’t always so sweet when it comes to eating dark chocolate.

What’s the problem with dark chocolate?

Dark chocolate is created from cocoa, and is often mixed with very little milk or none at all. This is what primarily makes dark chocolate different than milk chocolate and white chocolate. However, there isn’t any exact regulation on what can and can’t be labeled dark chocolate, and that is where some of the problems can arise and health gains wane. The amount of cocoa in dark chocolate and types and amounts of all the other ingredients can vary so much that ‘dark chocolate’ can mean all sorts of things.

One of the biggest issues is the sugar content. Chocolate is normally thought of as sweet, but as a natural substance cacao or cocoa is anything but. What gives it the sweetness is sugar, and if you didn’t know sugar in excess isn’t so great.

Sugar, in all of its forms is an energy source, but the simple sugars used to sweeten chocolate and most other sweets bring with them a tendency to convert to fat, to cause tooth decay, and to throw off your natural digestive processes.

Too much sugar promotes blood sugar spikes, which is one of the factors that can creat issues with conditions like diabetes. Diabetes causes a myriad of terrible health conditions, from poor eyesight to, poor circulation, heart illness, and an overall reduced life span.

So you can’t just eat it all day huh?

Nope. And defining what exactly dark chocolate is can be problematic. The idea of eating a healthy dark chocolate means that you have to carefully consider the ratio of milk, sugar, and actual chocolate. If you are eating an unlabeled dark chocolate and skip out on looking at the nutrition, be warned: things like saturated fat, which go against heart health, can be just as high as any other chocolate. Just because there are things to be cautious of, however, doesn’t mean that you have to leave your fond memories of savoring delicious chocolate behind.

How do I do dark chocolate the right way?

  1. For the dark chocolate lover, one of the easiest ways to see what is in your tasty treat is simply reading the label. Looking at the ingredients listed, you will know if your bar contains dairy or other things, like oils or other additives, that make your chocolate a less healthy choice. For vegans or those that are lactose intolerant, this is especially important to check before buying. Many creators of dark chocolate not only opt to remove dairy, but have other distinguishing points to make buying dark chocolate that is tasty and nutritious easier.
  2. The chocolate companies to look for choose to list ingredients and the cocoa percentage. A dark chocolate above 70% is a more healthy dark chocolate. The other thirty percent of ingredients can vary, so even if the chocolate percentage is labeled, always make sure to check the other ingredients. Nuts and fruits can be tasty additions that sweeten and add flavor in a better way than ample amounts of sugar.
  3. Another idea is to opt out of strictly dark chocolate and check out the new favorite, cacao. The actual plant that produces cocoa, cacao can be bought as a powder or in the form of bars. Purer cacao offers superior nutrition over many dark chocolates containing hidden ingredients.When sweetened without cane sugar, with agave, stevia, dates, or other natural sources, you can still enjoy the flavors of chocolate. Next time you see dark chocolate, check out fair trade brands, nutrition, cocoa percentages, and of course do the one thing you must do when eating chocolate: enjoy eating it.

Moving Ahead on Your Super Food Journey

These are just three super foods that are potentially not as super as popular opinion says they are. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many more as well as many that are super. When you go online and see recipes from even the most healthy people, keep in mind: they don’t know everything. It takes a lot of sources and digging, and even multiple trained sources, to know how to use all of the super foods.

Don’t be discouraged just because learning about foods takes extra work. When you put the time in to learn more about food, you learn nutrition. Your body is, after all, a machine that needs fuel. Learning about this fuel, even if you have a few missteps along the way, means that you are taking the right steps. Learn from others with what foods get the most notice, and then see all the different ideas from not just other health foodies, but scientist and doctors. It isn’t about going back or forward when it comes to our health, but balancing the best of both.

And that isn’t too bad when you see the silver lining.

By combining our most basic needs in nutrition with the understandings of what science tells us, we gain a better understanding of how to optimize the body. It is in the knowing where we can find new ways out of our cultural health predicament. It can’t be impossible with where we are. When you are at the point of eating deep fried cheese on sticks, the only place can really be up. And kale, olive oil, and dark chocolate, when done just right aren’t a shabby way to begin.

Sources:

Kale:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/549791-dangers-of-juicing-with-too-much-kale/
http://www.vegparadise.com/otherbirds1112.html
Olive Oil:
http://www.lewisnaturalhealth.com/articles/general-articles/confused-about-cooking-oils-part-1
Dark Chocolate:
http://journal.chemistrycentral.com/content/5/1/5